Another NaNoWriMo is behind me.
Did I learn anything? Were there any takeaways?
Oh, sure. Planning is good. Plotting can be a friend… even to a pantser like me.
Maybe only character-driven writers will understand this, but all the planning and prepping in the world still guarantees you nothing.
I was plodding right along, words flowing like a cool stream, when all of a sudden, my beloved protagonist looks around with the malevolent grin of a serial killer and dumps a plot twist in my lap. (We’re still not speaking.)
Okaaaay. Now what?
I went with it.
The scene I was writing looked nothing like the one I sketched out six weeks ago. But, hey. Words were flowing… from somewhere, so I kept writing—and making notes.
I gave a cursory glance to my journal every morning, wondering if the completed scene would resemble what I’d planned in any way.
But, I stayed with it, because that is the point of NaNoWriMo. Get the words out of your head and on paper…fifty-thousand of them at least.
I reached the halfway mark and wondered if Hemingway ever struggled like this. Then I realized he drank… and a glass of wine doesn’t sound bad. But should I drink it or give it to my protagonist?
Nah. I’m still not happy with her… the wine is mine.
After one glass of Sweet Red, I understand why Hemingway drank!
It gets you out of your own way. The wall of doubt and fountain of inhibitions fall and you write like you’re on fire.
Or maybe that was just me.
No, I’m not advocating drinking while writing. Our liver is our friend and unlike plots, we can’t get a new one with every manuscript.
But, a writer writes because they have to. It is a deep-seeded need that can only be fulfilled by putting words on paper. Anything else is unacceptable.
If you get hit with a dose of writer’s block, get out of your way. The characters didn’t change and the words remain the same. The problem is you.
Remember why you write.
Remember the freedom you feel.
Remember the sense of accomplishment you feel regardless of if it’s five, five hundred, or five-thousand words you leave on the paper.
It took me a couple of years to “get it” but the NaNoWriMo rule of no editing makes perfect sense. It makes me get out of my own way to just write. Of course, by doing so, I’m also giving my characters free reign, but that’s a completely different blog post.
I’ve spent the first three days of December making notes and moving things around in my MS, however, I’m putting it away until after the holidays. But sometime in January, I’ll have to decipher all those red squiggly lines and double blue lines, and wonder if I was typing in alien code.
And there may or may not be wine involved, because… Hemingway.